Federal Circuit: February 2010 Archives
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February 2010 Archives

Rulings in Patent and Copyright Infringement Cases

The Federal Circuit decided a patent infringement suit related to a software patent and a copyright infringement suit against the US government.

In Trading Techs. Int'l, Inc. v. eSpeed, Inc., No. 08-1392, the court faced several issues involving plaintiff's patent involving software for displaying the market for a commodity traded in an electronic exchange.  In affirming the judgment of the district court, the court found, inter alia, that defendants infringed the asserted claims of one of the patents-in-suit, but not willfully.  The court found that because the two other accused products did not literally infringe, plaintiff is precluded from asserting infringement under the doctrine of equivalents.  It also ruled that the on-sale bar did not apply and that there was no finding of inequitable conduct.

In Gaylord v. US, No. 09-5044, the court faced a challenge to the United States Court of Federal Claims that a stamp issued by the US Postal Service made fair use of plaintiff's copyrighted work.  Although the court correctly determined that the government was not a joint author and that the AWCPA did not bar an infringement suit, it incorrectly concluded that the stamp made fair use of plaintiff's copyrighted work.

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Rulings in Two Patent Cases

The Federal Circuit decided two patent cases.  One involved claims of patent infringement and unfair competition related to patented footwear, commonly known as "Crocs", and the other involved a finding by the US Patent and Trademark Office, Board of Patent Appeals and Inferences rejecting an application involving divalent antibody fragments.

In Crocs, Inc. v. Int'l Trade Comm'n, No. 08-1596, the court found that the Commission erred in concluding that plaintiff's patent '858 would have been obvious because prior art taught all of the claimed elements of the '859 patent.  Court also found that Commission erred in claim construction of the '789 patent in incorrectly applying the ordinary observer industry requirements and the technical prong of the 19 U.S.C. section 337 domestic industry requirement. 

In In re Chapman, No. 09-1270, the court reversed the finding of petitioner's application for technology directed towards divalent antibody fragments as unpatentable because the  Board's opinion included erroneous statements that were not harmless, increasing the likelihood that petitioner was erroneously denied patent on grounds of obviousness.

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Pre-Award Bid Protest Rejected in Savantage Fin. Servs., Inc. v. US

In Savantage Fin. Servs., Inc. v. US, No. 09-5076, the Federal Circuit dealt with the plaintiff's pre-award bid protest challenging the terms of a request for proposals from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), arguing that the requirements unduly restricted full and open competition in violation of Competition in Contracting Act.

As stated in the decision: "Whether an agency's explanation for its bid proposal requirements is reasonable depends on the particular circumstances of each case, in this case, we find nothing unreasonable in the means DHS has devised to improve its likelihood of success in obtaining the agency-wide financial system that it has pursued, so far unsuccessfully, for more than six years."

Thus, the court held that DHS had a rational basis for requiring integrated financial, acquisition, and asset management system that is currently fully operational within the federal government. 

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In a case dealing with contracts between the US Forest Service and plaintiff that provide for timber harvesting in a forest region of Arizona, the circuit court in Precision Pine & Timber Inc. v. US, No. 08-5092, dealt with the issue of whether the federal government's suspension of fourteen contracts breached any express or implied warranties. 

In reversing the the trial court's judgment of liability and award of damages on all contracts except one, the court held that the trial court erred in construing a clause in question to create an express warranty and holding the Forest Service liable for misrepresentation.  Thus, the court found that the Forest Service did not breach its implied duty of good faith and fair dealing in suspending the contracts to due concerns about Mexican spotted owls being listed on the endangered species list.

As for one contract, known as the Hay contract, the Court concluded that the Forest Service lacked the authority to suspend it, and thus, ordered that plaintiff be entitled to damages during the duration of the suspension.

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Ruling Against Government in Night Vision Goggles Patent Case

In Honywell Int'l, Inc. v. US, No. 08-5181, the Federal Circuit dealt with the issue of whether the United States government infringed plaintiff-Honeywell's patent related to passive night vision goggles that are compatible with a full color display when both are used in an airline cockpit.

In reversing the decision of the US Court of Federal Claims, the court held that the government has not proved by clear convincing evidence that claim 2 of the patent is invalid and that plaintiff has standing to assert a claim for just compensation under the Invention Secrecy Act. 

The Court further held that the first sale doctrine does not preclude plaintiff from recovering damages against the government for use of infringing systems in the F-16 aircraft. 

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Implied Warranty In the Sale of Forfeited Vehicles By U.S. Customs?

In Agredano v. U.S., No. 08-5114. the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit dealt with the issue of whether the U.S. Customs and Border Protection breached an implied-in-warranty when it inadvertently sold a vehicle containing concealed narcotics to the plaintiff at an auction.

As set forth in the decision: "To recover for a breach of warranty, a plaintiff must allege and prove (1) that a valid warranty existed, (2) the warranty was breached, and (3) plaintiff's damages were caused by the breach."

Finding at issue under the first prong, the Court reversed the trial court's ruling in favor of the plaintiff in holding that it is incongruous to find that Customs impliedly warranted what it expressly disclaimed as Customs clearly and unambiguously stated that it was not extending a warranty regarding any aspect of the vehicle.

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SEB S.A. v. Montgomery Ward & Co., Inc., No. 09-1099

In a patent infringement action by a French company that specializes in home-cooking appliances against a Hong Kong corporation, involving a patent which claims a deep fryer with an inexpensive plastic outer shell or skirt, judgment of the district court is affirmed where: 1) there is no manifest of injustice in honoring a jury's finding of infringement under the doctrine of equivalents; 2) there is no prejudice to defendant in the district court's conclusion at the preliminary injunction stage that prosecution history estoppel did not apply; 3) the district court did not err in admitting plaintiff's expert testimony; 4) the jury's finding of inducement is justified, and the damage award, even if it was based on inducement alone, stands; 5) district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's motion for JMOL on discovery misconduct grounds; 6) district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to grant a new trial to defendant based on the summation of plaintiff's counsel; and 7) there is no detectable error in district court's decision to set aside its original awards of enhanced damages and attorney's fees.  

Read SEB S.A. v. Montgomery Ward & Co., Inc., No. 09-1099

Appellate Information

Appealed from: United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

Decided February 5, 2010

Judges

Before: Bryson, Linn, and Rader, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Circuit Judge Rader

Counsel

For Appellant:   Norman H. Zivin, Cooper & Dunham LLP

For Appellee:   William Dunnegan, Dunnegan LLC

ResQNet.com, Inc. v. Lansa, Inc., No. 08-1365

In a patent infringement action involving a technology relating to screen recognition and terminal emulation processes that download a screen of information from a remote mainframe computer onto a local personal computer, the decision of the district court is affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated and remanded where: 1) district court's judgment that plaintiff's patent is valid and is infringed by defendant is affirmed; 2) district court's ruling that another of plaintiff's patents is not infringed is affirmed; 3) district court's imposition of sanctions under Rule 11 against plaintiff and its counsel is reversed; and 4) district court's award of damages of $506,305 for past infringement based on a hypothetical royalty of 12.5%, plus prejudgment interest is vacated and remanded for redetermination of damages.    

Read ResQNet.com, Inc. v. Lansa, Inc., No. 08-1365

Appellate Information

Appealed from: United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

Decided February 5, 2010

Judges

Before: LourieNewman, and Rader, Circuit Judges

Per Curium Opinion

Counsel

For Appellant:   Jeffrey I. Kaplan, Kaplan Gilman & Pergament LLP

For Appellee:   James H Hulme, Arent Fox LLP

Totes-Isotoner Corp. v. US, No. 09-1113

In plaintiff's claim that the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States unconstitutionally denies equal protection of the laws by imposing different rates of duty on seamed leather gloves "for men" and seamed leather gloves "for other persons", judgment of the United States Court of International Trade dismissing the claim is affirmed where: 1) the CIT's judgment concluding that it had jurisdiction under section 1581(i), that plaintiff has standing to bring its claims, and that plaintiff's equal protection claims are justiciable is affirmed; but 2) plaintiff has failed to state an equal protection claim due to its failure to plead facts sufficient to allege a claim of unconstitutional discrimination. 

Read Totes-Isotoner Corp. v. US, No. 09-1113

Appellate Information

Appealed from: United States Court of International Trade

Decided February 5, 2010

Judges

Before: Lourie, Prost and Dyk, Circuit Judges

Opinion by  Dyk,  Circuit Judge

Counsel

For Appellant:   John M. Peterson, Neville Peterson LLP

For Appellee:  Jeanne E. Davidson, US Department of Justice, Director of Commercial Litigation Branch

Tr. in Bankr. of N. Am. Rubber Thread Co., Inc. v. US, No. 09-1191

In United States' challenge to the Court of International Trade's (CIT) jurisdiction to hear the Commerce's refusal to undertake a second changed circumstances review involving an antidumping duty order covering extruded rubber thread from Malaysia, judgment of the CIT is affirmed in part, reversed in part, and vacated in part where: 1) the CIT had jurisdiction over North American Rubber Thread's (NART) challenge but not the foreign industry's challenge; and 2) NART was judicially estopped from challenging an October 1, 1995 effective date, given its earlier argument to Commerce that a revocation date of October 1, 1995 was inappropriate.   

Read Tr. in Bankr. of N. Am. Rubber Thread Co., Inc. v. US, No. 09-1191

Appellate Information

Appealed from: United States Court of International Trade

Decided February 1, 2010

Judges

Before: Michel, Chief Judge,  Friedman, and Gajarsa, Circuit Judges

Opinion by  Michel, Chief Judge

Counsel

For Appellant:   Jay C. Campbell, White & Case LLP

For Appellee:  Patricia M. McCarthy, US Department of Justice, Commercial Litigation Branch